University of Michigan Campus Farm logo
Welcome to our website about our sustainability question surrounding the University of Michigan's Campus Farm. This website was produced by undergraduate students at the University of Michigan through Doctor Michaela Zint's course "Environment 211: Social Sciences and Environmental Problems," a class focused on using the social sciences as a means to address environmental problems. Our group was assigned a campus sustainabilty question about the Campus Farm, and throughout the semester we've been researching and forming recommendations. We aim to address the following questions:
- What might be the social benefits of a campus farm?
- How can students be encouraged to engage and volunteer with the farm?
In this site, we have provided a thorough list of social benefits and recommendations, supported by scholarly, peer-reviewed sources. Below are background information and additional websites about the University of Michigan's Campus Farm. Please explore our website and enjoy!
The University of Michigan's Campus Farm was created in 2013 by the combined efforts of the University of Michigan Sustainable Food Program and the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in order to "provide experiential education at the University of Michigan, and to address student interest in gaining practical growing experience," per the University of Michigan Sustainable Food Program's website. The farm provides a learning laboratory for many different classes, student organizations, and university departments. To learn more about the many functions of the Campus Farm, check out the video below, provided by the UM News Service's YouTube channel.
Video about the University of Michigan's Campus Farm
The main student organization that works with the Campus Farm is the Friends of the Campus Farm. The group coordinates workdays all year round for students at the University of Michigan to come plant, explore the area, and help with various projects at the farm. They strive to provide opportunities for students to gain hands on experience with farming and agriculture, learn about environmental and personal health, community building, and much more. In total, the Friends of the Campus Farm has about 500 students who have volunteered with them in some capacity, with 25-40 students coming to the weekly workdays. We had the opportunity to meet with the University of Michigan Sustainable Food Program's Director, Emily Canosa, who told us that on these workdays, there are just as many students working in the beds as there are socializing and connecting. The Campus Farm is not only a place for growing food, but also for growing community at the university. You can find a list of the various student organizations and member groups the farm serves here.
The Campus Farm also serves as a research laboratory and living classroom for numerous programs, including the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, the School of Natural Resources and Environment, the School of Public Health, the Program in the Environment. The farm also collaborates with groups in the larger Ann Arbor and Southeastern Michigan community, including the Washtenaw Food Hub and ECO Girls.
Because the farm is relatively young, it is still working to implement stronger academic engagement opportunities for students and professors on campus. Please see our Recommendations section to see how we suggest the Campus Farm can increase academic engagement and why social science research suggests it's an important learning opportunity. We also have recommendations on how the farm can increase its online presence, volunteers, and potentially include animals.